The Hogan Development Survey

Identifying Career Derailing Behaviors

What behaviors could knock your career off-track?

© iStockphoto/chelovek

Relationships at work are critical to your success. Whether you're a leader trying to build a team where people work together successfully, or a team member trying to produce great results, your accomplishments often depend on your ability to get along with others.

This ability to get along is rooted in our interpersonal behavior. Some behaviors help us get along with people. Others can damage relationships and undermine our careers, without us being aware of them.

The harmful behaviors often appear when we're under stress, bored, tired, or distracted. So, something that's a perfectly acceptable – even creditable – personality trait under normal circumstances can become negative when we're in a pressure situation. And harmful behaviors and responses that we normally control can surface at times of stress.

For instance, a person who is naturally cautious can be an asset to the team when there's time to consider options carefully before making a decision. Under pressure, however, that cautiousness can quickly turn into indecisiveness, delaying decisions unnecessarily. This can cause problems to escalate that could otherwise be "nipped in the bud".

So how can we uncover and neutralize the negative, harmful elements of our personality? The Hogan Development Survey (HDS) was designed to do this. It helps people understand how their behaviors and preferences can potentially damage their workplace relationships with colleagues, customers, and team members. Hopefully this self-awareness can then lead to improvement and change.

Note 1:

The HDS was developed by Drs Robert and Joyce Hogan, who were both professors of psychology at the University of Tulsa in the United States. The current version was published in 1997.

Note 2:

The Hogans refer to potentially harmful characteristics as the "Dark Side" of our personality. You will sometimes, therefore, see this tool referred to as "The Dark Side Survey".

Survey Specifics

The HDS is designed to predict possible barriers to career success. The survey is easy to take and to administer, and consists of 168 true/false questions.

A useful and unique feature of the HDS is that it presents the results from the perspective of your colleagues. So, if you're like the cautious person we mentioned earlier, your results would identify what it means to be "cautious" (careful, conservative, afraid of mistakes) and how others would describe you (a slow decision maker, and resistant to change). While you may believe that being cautious is a good coping strategy in high-pressure situations, your co-workers might see it very differently.

The HDS assessment helps people see the positive and negative sides of their preferred behavior and style. This is why it's particularly useful for coaches who work with people who don't understand why their careers haven't progressed (despite, for example, having great technical skills). It's also a helpful and commonly used tool in recruitment and career planning, as it allows managers to predict how people will behave when stressed, and coach and train people to avoid negative behaviors.

Hogan's 11 Personality Dimensions

The Hogan Development Survey measures 11 different personality dimensions that can affect your success when working with others in a team situation. If you score at or above the 70th percentile on any of these dimensions, then you may be at risk of displaying the negative characteristics associated with that dimension.

We'll discuss each dimension, and look at how to interpret the risk score.

Cluster A – People with high scores across these five areas try to avoid risk, and can tend to look at things from a negative point of view. They anticipate the worst, and may avoid action and otherwise slow down the decision-making process. Cluster A dimensions are shown below.

  • Excitable: This measures people's ability to work under pressure, as well as their teamwork, interpersonal skills.

    People strong on excitability typically show lots of enthusiasm for ideas, people, and projects, but then something happens to cause disappointment… Under pressure, they can become annoyed easily, and they can be moody and unpredictable. It can be hard to work with excitable people because you never know what to expect, and they're often very difficult to please.

  • Skeptical: This measures the degree to which someone is argumentative, and also their critical thinking and interpersonal skills.

    People who score highly on this dimension are often perceptive and smart, but they can tend to doubt things and looking for deceit or betrayal. They're often easily hurt by criticism, and they can become argumentative when under stress. They can seem to enjoy conflict, and will often strongly defend themselves and their ideas when they perceive any insult or discourtesy. Other people can find them aggressive, and are often afraid of retaliation if they do or say something "wrong".

  • Cautious: This measures people's ability to make decisions, their adaptability, and their ability to take control.

    Cautious people are often overly concerned about making mistakes. They tend to avoid taking initiative, because they fear criticism. They can also be very resistant to change and risk, and others may see them as unassertive, slow, and pessimistic.

  • Reserved: This measures people's interpersonal skills, teamworking skills and communication skills.

    These people are often poor listeners, who prefer to work alone rather than in a team. They often don't recognize social cues, and they can become more and more uncommunicative as stress develops. They often prefer to work independently and expect others to feel the same. People who work with them often perceive them as unfriendly, uncaring, inconsiderate, and self-centered.

  • Leisurely: This measures people's assertiveness, adaptability, and work ethic.

    High scorers here are usually easy to get along with on the surface, and they're good at making it appear that they're working cooperatively and productively. However, they're often willing to cooperate only as long as things go their way. They can want things done on their terms, they can procrastinate, and they can build up resentment towards others. People who work with them often find that they're stubborn, irritable, and bad-tempered; and may believe that they want to be left alone to do things their own way.

Cluster B – People with high scores in these four dimensions are risk takers, and are often charismatic and well liked. However, these people can be very focused on themselves, and they may be more interested in what's best for themselves in the short term rather than what's best for the team or organization in the long term. Cluster B dimensions are shown below.

  • Bold: This measures people's self-confidence and willingness to take responsibility.

    Bold people have lots of confidence in their abilities, but they can make risky decisions because they tend towards overconfidence. In personal assessments, they often focus on the positives and ignore the negatives, and they may blame others for their own failings. People who work with them see people like this as arrogant, opinionated, self-centered, and demanding.

  • Mischievous: This measures people's tendency to take risks and to "test" rules. It also measures their intuitiveness, and how impulsive they are.

    These people like to cause trouble. They ignore rules on a regular basis, and prefer to work outside of accepted guidelines. They're very charming and seek excitement. As a result, most of their focus is on short-term gains, despite long-term pain. Mischievous people are perceived as impulsive nonconformists, who rarely commit to any one thing.

  • Colorful: This measures how much people seek attention, their listening skills, and their productivity.

    People who score high on this dimension are dramatic and like to be the center of attention. They may interrupt others, they can be easily distracted, and their work is often disorganized. Colorful people are often well liked at work because they're entertaining, but others often don't want to work with them, because they aren't particularly productive, they're unfocused, and they don't listen very well.

  • Imaginative: This measures people's creativity, foresight, and ability to influence others.

    High scores here reflect the ability to think creatively, and adopt unique perspectives on issues and problems. While some of their ideas are brilliant, their unpredictable actions can often be distracting. Imaginative people frequently don't realize that their unconventional ways are disruptive to the team. The people around them may see them as odd, eccentric, and lacking in common sense.

Cluster C – People scoring highly on these last two dimensions represent few risks for an organization. They cause little conflict, and high scores are often not problematic. However, they can tend to lack the ability to express their opinions, and this is not helpful over the longer term. Cluster C dimensions are shown below.

  • Diligent: This measures people's attention to detail, productivity, and ability to delegate.

    Conscientiousness, reliability, carefulness, order, and attention to detail are key characteristics of diligent people. They plan, organize, and take responsibility. However, they tend to expect everyone to be as hardworking as they are, and often others don't meet their expectations. They can fail to delegate and often overwork, and people who work beside them feel inadequate and distrusted because their work is always being criticized or being redone.

  • Dutiful: This measures how compliant people are, their ability to conform, and their decision making skills.

    High scorers in this last dimension are the "pleasers". They work for approval, and they hold back on expressing their opinions for fear of contradicting others. They are polite, easy to deal with, and very agreeable. It's hard to dislike working with dutiful people, but you soon realize that you can't depend on them for critical thinking, because they may just accept bad ideas.

Terms from "Hogan Development Survey (HDS): The Dark Side of Personality."

Key Points

The Hogan Development Survey assesses 11 common types of behavior that can harm a person's ability to build relationships and work cooperatively. Although each of these interpersonal preferences represents both positive and negative behaviors, the negative side is more likely to appear during times of stress and tension.

If you want to improve your interpersonal skills and move your career forward, it helps to understand the types of behavior to recognize and avoid when you're feeling pressured. This assessment tool is also helpful in recruitment and promotion, because it identifies potential problem areas that you can address with development and training.

Apply This to Your Life:

If you're interested in completing the Hogan Development Survey or administering it within your organization, contact Hogan directly or find an authorized distributor in your area.

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